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GUKPT 2017 Gets Off To A Record-Breaking Start!
GUKPT season XI started with a bang with more than £500k won in a great week at The Poker Room at London’s Victoria Casino.
Almost 10 years to the day since the very first GUKPT in Bolton, hundreds of players headed for the capital as the UK’s premier poker tour goes from strength to strength.
The side events were massive, including a record-breaking Mini Main to start the week – Josh O’Connor topping a 318-runner field to scoop £10,130 after a four-way deal. There were 65 in the £300 Tuesday comp, taken down by 2015 GUKPT Luton champ Will Davies for £5,315 after a heads-up deal.
Mohammed Suhail won the 131-runner £200 6-max on Wednesday for £6,490 after another heads-up deal.
The Main Event started on Thursday and the 161 runners on day 1a gave an indication that this was gonna be a biggy.
I decided to head to the Vic and joined the Tower in the commentary box before playing the Thursday side event, a £150 4/5/6 PLO with a great structure like all GUKPT events.
No curse of the commentator here
What a table we had to watch in the couple of hours I spend in the comms box – Matt Perrins, two-time WSOP bracelet winner, one of the best NLHE players the UK has ever produced, and one of the nicest guys you’ll meet too, lining up against Adrian Mateos, owner of another two WSOP bracelets, as well as the EPT Grand Final crown.
If you want to see how the best in the world play, you need to tune into the fantastic GUKPT live stream, now in HD. And if you can’t catch it live, do what I do and watch them again on the GUKPT YouTube channel.
Pez and Mateos are two of the very best in the world, they’ve won four bracelets, millions of dollars and are both great poker players, and you can watch how they play for free!
I got off to a great start in the PLO sidey, first doubling up with A9TJ with nut spades on a QJ8 with two spade board. With the nuts and nut redraw, I love to raise here and hope for the freeroll.
My opponent called, and called again on the blank turn. The river came a spade to give me the nut flush and my opponent moved all-in. I obviously quickly called and found my opponent with the second nuts, the king high flush.
After a quick start, though, the wheels came off, and while I got it in good, I lost back to back all-in hands to Rob Garfield and departed in about 25th place. Rajiv Sakaria won £2,300 and the trophy in a four way split.
Masses In The Main Event
Still, I had the Main Event to play the next day, the first big event of 2017, and it didn’t disappoint.
Added to the Thursday numbers, a total of 435 players stumped up the £1k buy-in, making a prize pool of, well, £435k obviously. It’s obvious at Grosvenor events because the prize pools aren’t raked. Take a look at how much rival events would have in their prize pool if 435 people paid £1k entry each, it isn’t £435k I’ll tell you that much!
Of course, not every entrant has pulled up £1100 in cash though, there were plenty of satellite winners, both live and in the twice weekly online satellites. Lee Harrison tells me he’ll get over 100 satellite winners into the Manchester GUKPT at the end of this month, so there’s plenty of chances for every bankroll.
Back to GUKPT London though, and with that many runners, there was bound to be more than £100k for first, time to go to work!
I made a real effort to not haemorrhage chips on my starting table – it’s so tempting to see too many flops, try to get creative and risk your stack, when you start with 20k, but my tight start was rewarded when I found the aces in position against a big blind desperately hanging on, calling every street with KQ on a king high board.
I moved to a new table after dinner break and received a text from one of my mates who had been on the table.
He said “watch out for seats x and y, they both play too many hands and their bet sizing is erratic.” I knew these two would be the guys I’d be tangling with, but thought it might take more than one hand!
First hand I play, the guy to my left peels my raise (it turns out he does this just about every hand) and the button 3b – both the players my mate had pointed out. I end up calling but check-folding the flop, to see the button had 3b A2 and the guy to my left had AJ.
The info given by my mate, and that first hand, played a part in my biggest hand of day one.
The guy who had 3b opened to 1600 at 300/600 and I found pocket queens on the button. In position here I will call a good portion of the time, mainly depending on history and dynamics.
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…
It’s important to recognise how you look to your opponents in the same way you profile others. Have you been playing tight, have you peeled a lot, and if so, have you called any squeezes or folded to them, have you 3b too much, etc.
If you haven’t 3b all day, then your first 3b is going to get some respect. I’m always mindful that I play on the slightly tighter side, so I don’t want to give away my hand’s strength.
I’d not been at this table long enough, and had no history with this guy but I did know the guy to my left loves to peel, and if he came along from the small blind, the big blind would no doubt flick it in, and while I’d still be in position with a premium, four handed would be far from ideal.
I decided it was best to make a small 3b in position, get it heads-up and take control. I raised his 1600 open to 4k, the two blinds passed and he….moved all in for 35k! It was so big and quick it felt like AK, but I couldn’t pass such a big hand as queens and I’d still have 10k left if I lost so I called and he flipped pocket fives!
Sometimes when you’re considering whether to 3b or trap and call, you have to build in that people might just blast off their stack to you, and that’s exactly what happened, a bricky board later I had 80k and was flying.
The final session of day 1 started with me losing a 77 v AJ flip and I decided just to play tight and make it through the day, ending up with a very healthy 62k coming back to 500/1k.
The Day Two Blues
With 150 players coming back for day 2, the most ever, and only 40 paid, it was going to be a long old slog, and while I had some fun tables, including one with Vicky Coren-Mitchell, Simon Deadman and Ross Boatman all sat together, I didn’t find many cards or situations to make some progress.
I had two very good Spanish players to my right dominating proceedings as the bubble approached, but when they eventually turned on each other, the guy to my right – who had already made quads against aces, house over house with AK v 99 and the nut flush v a disguised set – made a great call to send his compatriot back to Spain with second pair.
Our table broke and within a few hands we were hand for hand, one spot from the money. I only had 9bb, meaning I’d have to play tight, though I should have more than enough to make the money.
Double, Double Toil And Trouble
First hand of hand for hand though, Ross shoved from UTG+1 for 15bb. The rest of the table bar me had him covered, but they passed one by one to me in the big blind. I looked at my cards to find pocket kings. Next out gets nothing, outlast one more and you win £2,300, but a pair of kings is a pair of kings!
I called and once the other tables had played out it was on their backs, I just had to avoid an ace against Ross’s AJ and my kings would guide me into the money and in with a chance of the £113k first prize:
Blank flop. A brick on the turn meant I only had to avoid one of the three aces on the river. Sigh, there it is, the old Barry Greenstein, ace on the river. Gutted.
No complaints about Ross moving in, just need your hand to hold sometimes that’s all!
I wished everyone well but wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
On the way out though, I spotted my mate Kav at the bar, the man fighting terminal cancer in a more brave way than you could ever imagine. Am I jumping in a cab home in a huff because I lost at poker when I can play again next month in Manchester, next year in London and wherever else in between? Am I hell, get me a pint and let’s enjoy the other side of poker, the post mortem and pints in the bar!
Side Event Success
Dean Swift took down the Win The Button side event for £3,600, while Andy Hills, winner of the £10k GUKPT Passport promotion, showed his stuff in the £75+£75 Bounty taking it down for £1,300.
I headed back to the commentary box with the Tower on Sunday and watched a fantastic final table.
There’s no doubt he ran well but Michael Zhang looked the best player from where I was sitting, and it was no surprise he took down the title, the shiny new trophy and the £113k prize.
The key hand for me came four handed when Michael and eventual runner-up Javier Zapatero were the two chip leaders and played a massive hand.
Michael raised with KT and Javier, who had been winning most pots, decided to trap and just call with AK. Of course the standard move is to 3b the AK here, and in trapping Javier knows it looks unlikely to his opponent that AK is in his range.
The blinds passed and the flop came 10 high. Michael c-bet and Javier, with two overs and an under-repped hand, peeled. The turn was a cooler king and Michael, with top two, now checked.
Javier, now with top-top, bet the turn. I would probably have check raised here, but Michael just called and checked again on the river.
Javier, knowing it would be unlikely that Michael could put him on such a big hand given the preflop action, went for a meaty value bet which Michael snapped off to take a commanding lead. I don’t think either player did anything wrong in this hand, it was just a cooler that may well have decided the destination of the title.
As Michael lifted the trophy and we escaped the commentary booth to watch the Super Bowl, there was still time for another of the good guys, Dave Maudlin, to take down the final event of the festival, pocketing a very handy £3860 in beating 121 runners in the £100 freezeout on Sunday.
A great week, some great players, some great results for good friends and a deserving new member to the GUKPT winners’ club!
I can’t wait for Manchester from February 26 ‘til March 5, another great festival, and don’t forget, the cardroom manager reckons he’ll qualify 100 in live sats, and there are two sats per week, with 2 seats guaranteed in each, on Tuesday and Sunday, on GrosvenorPoker.com.
They are £100 with an optional rebuy and there is usually great value to be had.